Manitoba

Politicians get bird's-eye view of flood-impacted Manitoba communities

Manitoba's premier took a helicopter tour of the flood-ravaged province on Sunday, alongside a group that included the leader of the Opposition and the infrastructure minister.

Premier, Opposition leader, infrastructure minister toured flooded-out parts of province in helicopter

Manitoba Opposition NDP leader Wab Kinew, left, and Premier Heather Stefanson, second from left, were among those on a helicopter tour of parts of the province hit hard by flooding on Sunday. (John Woods/The Canadian Press)

Manitoba's premier took a helicopter tour of the flood-ravaged province on Sunday, alongside a group that included the leader of the Opposition and the infrastructure minister.

The helicopter carrying Heather Stefanson, Wab Kinew and Doyle Piwniuk lifted off around 10 a.m., first travelling south along Highway 75 and the Red River, and past Morris to the Emerson area, Stefanson said.

She said it was good to see how previous spending on flood mitigation infrastructure like ring dikes has paid off in some of those communities, but the "very informative" overhead tour of the region also made it clear many farmers' fields will be underwater for some time.

"There's a lot of water on those farmlands and everything else down in that area, so there's going to be ... more discussions after this with respect to, you know, some of the challenges that those farmers are going to be facing," Stefanson told reporters after the tour ended Sunday afternoon.

The tour also brought the politicians up further north over the hard-hit Peguis First Nation, and back down over the Arborg area, which is facing overland flooding because of the swollen nearby Icelandic River, she said.

The helicopter then travelled down to the Gimli area, and down to just north of Lockport where the Red River Floodway feeds back into the river again, Stefanson said.

Bird's-eye view of flood-impacted Manitoba communities

5 months ago
Duration 2:15
Manitoba's premier took a helicopter tour of the flood-ravaged province on Sunday, alongside a group that included the leader of the Opposition and the infrastructure minister. The tour also brought the politicians up further north over the hard-hit Peguis First Nation, and back down over the Arborg area, which is facing overland flooding because of the swollen nearby Icelandic River.

Bolstering flood infrastructure

Piwniuk, the province's infrastructure minister, said the province is assessing how to improve flood mitigation infrastructure for communities that have been hit hard by rising waters this spring.

"We're looking at … opportunities to look at new investments when it comes to flood mitigation, and that's what we're going to be looking at and assessing during these flood times," Piwniuk said.

As for whether flood prevention measures are coming for Peguis, Piwniuk said any efforts will need to be led by the federal government and in collaboration with all affected communities.

"When it comes to anything with floods, you work with the whole region so that you don't cause impact to some other community," he said.

The need for bolstered flood infrastructure was one echoed by Opposition NDP leader Kinew, who said it was important to him to be part of the tour of flooded communities this weekend.

"I think during flooding and during an emergency situation, it's important for Manitobans to see their elected officials working together for the common interest of our province," Kinew said.

Nearly 2,500 people in the province have now been forced from their homes by floodwaters, Johanu Botha, head of Manitoba's Emergency Management Organization, said alongside the politicians on Sunday.

Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson and Opposition NDP leader Wab Kinew head to a press conference after a helicopter tour of Manitoba’s flood areas on Sunday. (John Woods/The Canadian Press)

That figure includes just under 2,000 evacuees from First Nations in the province, said Botha, who's also the province's assistant deputy minister of emergency management. Another 446 evacuees were from municipalities, he said.

As of Sunday, 33 states of local emergency have been declared due to flooding in Manitoba, the province said in a flood bulletin released later in the day. 

Manitoba's flood website says the Red River has now crested at all points from the U.S. border to the floodway inlet. 

Water remains high

Water levels closer to Winnipeg aren't expected to drop significantly until the end of next week, but there's no longer a projection for another crest, the website says. The river is expected to remain high likely into June, according to the province's flood bulletin.

The province also reminded drivers not to try to drive through flooded areas or across bridges that are covered with or damaged by rising waters.

A significant number of roads are damaged or have been closed in Manitoba's Parkland region, where an overland flood warning has been issued, the flood bulletin said.

Flooding in that region is moving east off the escarpment and could still affect areas downstream before getting to Dauphin Lake or Lake Winnipegosis, the bulletin said.

The Dauphin Lake is forecast to exceed flood stage in the next two days and stay there until the end of June with normal weather conditions. That lake is expected to peak at 858.4 feet, the bulletin said.

A flood warning for all rivers and drains in the area draining out of the Duck and Porcupine mountains remains in place. A flood warning also remains for the Winnipeg River and Whiteshell areas.

Flooding continues in parts of the province's Interlake, the Red River Valley and many other parts of central and southern Manitoba.

The Red River overflows its banks south of Winnipeg on Sunday. (John Woods/The Canadian Press)

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